This record is almost entirely solo steel-string guitar—all recorded on Michael’s 1971 Martin D-28 (“Barbara”). In addition to his inventive, original guitar solos, Michael recorded a beautiful instrumental version of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” with Michael Manring playing fretless bass. Hedges and Manring were joined by conservatory-trained flutist Mindy Rosenfeld on the jazz-oriented “Ménage à Trois.” Rosenfeld was Michael’s spouse at the time, and the inspiration for the album’s final track “The Magic Farmer.”
Breaking new ground in electronic music as well, Hedges spent 111 hours during a week in a Baltimore studio combining recorded guitar sounds—including backward-playing tape at different speeds—to produce the groundbreaking “Spare Change.” Pushing the limits of studio engineering was a major focus on this album. Michael worked with an amazing sound engineering team—including Steven Miller, Bill Mueller, and Oliver DiCicco—to produce new sonic textures on Aerial Boundaries.
In January 1985, Hedges and his sound team were nominated for a Grammy® in the category of “Best Engineered Recording (Non-classical).” Hedges found inspiration for the pieces on this record from a wide range of sources, from the foothills of Yosemite to the sunsets of Key West; from minimalist composers to Indian belly-dancing music; and even from submarines and the IBM typewriter. As Michael’s most commercially successful album, Aerial Boundaries spent 24 weeks on Billboard’s jazz chart after tours of North America, Europe and Japan. Aerial Boundaries forever changed the history of the acoustic guitar.
Words by Jake White, biographer
Photo credit: unknown